UK & World News

  • 15 January 2013, 5:16

Bus Driver Hurt As Violence Flares In Belfast

A bus driver has been injured after rioting loyalists hurled stones at his vehicle in the latest flaring of violence in east Belfast.

Police were attacked with stones and bottles and petrol bombs thrown at houses and a church in the neighbouring Catholic Short Strand district.

The driver was hurt by flying glass when a brick shattered a window in his bus in the Lower Newtownards Road area.

Petrol bombs were also thrown from Short Strand towards loyalist homes in Lower Newtownards Road.

One officer was injured and water cannon deployed to disperse protesters in what has been minor disorder compared to recent weeks.

Trouble flared just hours after the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable Matt Baggott and politicians appealed for calm.

Now in its seventh week, public disorder has continually flared up in protest at a decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag above City Hall.

First Minister Peter Robinson branded rioters the enemies of democracy and said they were being exploited by elements seeking to wreck the peace process.

He said: "You do not respect a Union flag if you are using it as a weapon to charge against someone.

"You are not showing respect for the Union flag if you need to wear a mask when carrying it.

"For many the issue of the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Council is now a cynical cover for the real political agenda which is to destroy the political process."

So far 101 police officers have been injured in the violence, and 85 people have been charged with public order offences.

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